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   Beat that charge, Electron's lawyer had told him, and there's plenty

   more where that came from. The DPP had good pickings and could make up

   a new charge for another site. Still, Electron reasoned some of the

   Crown's evidence would not have stood up under cross-examination.

  

   When reporters from Australia and overseas called NASA headquarters

   for comment on the hacker-induced network shutdown, the agency

   responded that it had no idea what they were talking about. There had

   been no NASA network shutdown. A spokesman made inquiries and, he

   assured the media, NASA was puzzled by the report. Sharon Beskenis's

   statement didn't seem so watertight after all. She was not, it turned

   out, even a NASA employee but a contractor from Lockheed.

  

   During that month-long wait, Electron had trouble living down Kayser's

   nursery-rhyme rendition in the courtroom. When he rang friends, they

   would open the conversation saying, `Oh, is that Little Jack Horner?'

  

   They had all seen the nightly news, featuring Kayser and his client.

   Kayser had looked grave leaving court, while Electron, wearing John

   Lennon-style glasses with dark lenses and with his shoulder-length

   curls pulled tightly back in a ponytail, had tried to smile at the

   camera crews. But his small, fine features and smattering of freckles

   disappeared under the harsh camera lights, so much so that the black,

   round spectacles seemed almost to float on a blank, white surface.

  

   The week after Electron pleaded guilty in Australia, Pad and Gandalf

   sat side by side in London's Southwark dock one last time.

  

   For a day and a half, beginning on 20 May 1993, the two hackers

   listened to their lawyers argue their defence. Yes, our clients hacked

   computers, they told the judge, but the offences were nowhere near as

   serious as the prosecution wants to paint them. The lawyers were

   fighting hard for one thing: to keep Pad and Gandalf out of prison.

  

   Some of the hearing was tough going for the two hackers, but not just

   because of any sense of foreboding caused by the judge's imminent

   decision. The problem was that Gandalf made Pad laugh, and it didn't

   look at all good to laugh in the middle of your sentencing hearing.

   Sitting next to Gandalf for hours on end, while lawyers from both

   sides butchered the technical aspects of computer hacking which the

   8lgm hackers had spent years learning, did it. Pad had only to give

   Gandalf a quick sidelong glance and he quickly found himself

   swallowing and clearing his throat to keep from bursting into

   laughter. Gandalf's irrepressible irreverence was written all over his

   face.

  

   The stern-faced Judge Harris could send them to jail, but he still

   wouldn't understand. Like the gaggle of lawyers bickering at the front

   of the courtroom, the judge was--and would always be--out of the loop.

   None of them had any idea what was really going on inside the heads of

   the two hackers. None of them could ever understand what hacking was

   all about--the thrill of stalking a quarry or of using your wits to

   outsmart so-called experts; the pleasure of finally penetrating a

   much-desired machine and knowing that system is yours; the deep

   anti-establishment streak which served as a well-centred ballast

   against the most violent storms washing in from the outside world; and

   the camaraderie of the international hacking community on Altos.

  

   The lawyers could talk about it, could put experts on the stand and

   psychological reports in the hands of the judge, but none of them